The Royals opened the 2019 NWAC Softball season with a bang, going 10-1 in spring training and sweeping the Highline College Thunderbirds in their first conference games of the year.
Douglas spent the first day of conference play in Des Moines, Washington, just outside Seattle. Coming off of an incredible preseason in which they outscored their opponents 158-28, the Royals wasted no time as an RBI single from Keyanna Olsen gave the Royals an early lead. Highline answered back in the bottom of the first, but a two-run second inning from Douglas set the tone for the morning half of the doubleheader. Jessica Podsklany pitched a fantastic complete game allowing just one hit and one run. Shelby Kwak and Janessa Hanson each had three-hit games for the Royals.
The afternoon game was much tighter as Podsklany pitched another complete game on no rest. Highline College put up a 3-spot in the third inning to give the Royals a scare, but Douglas answered back immediately with two runs to tie the game at 3. An Emilie Sherritt home run was part of a four-run explosion in the top of the sixth inning that seemed to put the game beyond doubt for Douglas, but the Thunderbirds put up a four-spot of their own in the home half to tie the game at seven runs apiece. With the game on the line, a one-run double from Sherritt gave the Royals a late lead and Podsklany shut down Highline as the Royals took an 8-7 victory and started the NWAC season 2-0.
Head coach Jenn McKellar praised the leadership and excellent play of second year ace Jessica Podsklany. "Pods", as McKellar calls her, is 7-1 with a 2.48 ERA in preseason and regular season games in 2019, good for third best in the NWAC, and is putting up 7.73 K/7.
McKellar also mentioned the strong chemistry of her team, saying "we are a smaller team this year but instead of that being a weakness, it is our strength". The smaller roster size has its limitations, but the freshman players have adapted to new positions as McKellar has prioritized togetherness and commitment to the team. "The players and coaches share a tight bond and a common goal to be the best team we can be every time we step on the field. We all share a small connection to an underdog story and let that fuel our motivation."
The Royals visit Skagit Valley College for a pair of games on Saturday before hosting Pierce College next weekend in the home opener.